Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shri Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan
(1935 - 2008)

The legendary maestro is no more. I am too small a person to even attempt an obituary. Probably it isn't right either because people who have heard him play the violin will never forget the music, the mannerisms and his on-stage charisma. Heaven will now have a richer music.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lead to Gold

In the movie Hudson Hawk, Bruce Willis saves the world from an economic meltdown from a rich lunatic who wants to turn lead into gold. The idea is to flood the world with so much gold that most of the world's currencies, which are backed by a nation's gold reserves, become worthless. The question is... is this possible - to turn lead into gold?

Leonardo da Vinci apparently knew how to convert lead into gold. He was also smart enough to know the implications that it would have on the world economy if every commoner came to know the secret. That is why he wrote the methodology in his diary in a cryptic form which till date no one has been able to decipher.

Truth is, it is possible to turn lead into gold. Lead (atomic number 82) and gold (atomic number 79) are different by only a diference of 3 protons. So if by some chemical or physical reaction one is able to remove 3 protons from lead then the resultant product is pure gold - worthless to priceless! There have been reports that as far back as 1951 people discovered the process by accident but found it too cumbersome to repeat. The Soviets realised that some of the lead shieldings in their nuclear reactors had turned to gold during atomic reactions - again not a feasible proposition - blasting nuclear bombs to turn lead to gold.
Alternative is to use particle accelerators which can make atoms travel at near to speed of light and collide with another atom and in the process release some protons. But buidling particle accelrators costs $3 billion and converting lead to gold - atom by atom - is surely not worth it. Thus the only feasible option now is to extract gold from various mines... unless one of you out there is smart enough to come out with an alternative :-)

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